While I’ve been invested haphazardly since 2007, I still am pretty clueless when it comes to smart investment choices. OK, so the only real smart investment choices, one can argue, is diversification and low-fee ETFs (shout out @Vanguard.) However, my little investing hobby has led me to put my money into some – somewhat – riskier individual stocks and non-standard ETFs. And to be honest I have no idea how they are performing because my investment brokerage (Sharebuilder) only shows me the total % increase on my account (not annual) and doesn’t take into account any losses or gains from sales. So I’m at a loss for what is going on.
Thus, as a project of unemployment, I’m trying to dig through all my investing records and put together a clean google spreadsheet where I can at least see what the hell happened each year. Sharebuilder lets you see all your past history but doesn’t make it easy before 2012. It’s a PITA before 2012 as you have to manually go back to each month and can’t skip over the years, both for starting month and end month. I wish they made this feature easier to use!
So far I’ve gotten through most of 2013. My first couple of years were insane dollar-cost-average years, when Sharebuilder still had it’s $12 a month for 12 investments program ($1 per investment on Tuesday mornings, good deal.) Sorting through that mess is fun. Not. But at least I didn’t pay $4 or $8 per trade like I did in some other years. Now I’m mostly investing at Vanguard (with $0 trade fees, woot) but on occasion I get the itch to buy some random ETF (like a good China one since I’m convinced they are taking over the world and when the US economy goes to shit at least my investments in China will be worth something, as long as they allow American to collect her money.)
Anyway, if anyone out there has a suggestion of how to actually figure out my annual gains/losses overall and percent increases, I’m all ears. It gets complicated because sales are sometimes short-term and sometimes long-term capital gains (mostly long-term but I messed up on my AAPL sale — beginner mistake — when apparently Sharebuilder sold off the newest shares I bought instead of the oldest, even though I had plenty that could have been sold for long-term capital gains and they gave me no spot to request this. Anyway, either I need to figure this out or go to an accountant who will charge me a lot to figure this out. I’d rather understand it myself. It’s going to take ma e few hours to get all of this information into a spreadsheet and then I’ll have to draw some insights out of it. Like, how sad should I be that I sold 75% of my AAPL shares in 2013?